Carved to the Bone

By eschewing Night of the Living Dead's goriest shocks, this zombie classic becomes an hour-long stage frolic.

This stage resurrection of George A. Romero's 1968 horror classic proves more sanitary than sanguine. With a running time that's barely more than an hour, it's a campy distraction that will remind parents of Carol Burnett–style sketch comedy. Teens accustomed to gorefests like Saw and Hostel will be groaning in their seats and twitching to text-message their pals throughout the performance, because the scares are few and far between. (SCT recommends the show for kids age 13 and older.)In Romero's zombie original, a mysterious, possibly extraterrestrial force causes the dead to rise up in a spree of mass murder and cannibalism. Each bite, of course, communicates the zombie virus—adding to the undead army. All of which, as wittily directed by Linda Hartzell, is as spooky as breakfast with Count Chocula.Here again a handful of strangers barricade themselves inside a remote house surrounded by flesh-eaters. Familiar figures from the movie are ably portrayed by a cast including Reginald Jackson, Sarah Harlett, MJ Sieber, and Kathryn Van Meter. Peter Jacobs plays a McCain–like caricature with a boozy wife (Marianne Owen); he tries to save the day by bossing everyone around. (What, no Sarah Palin? She knows how to handle a gun.)The play is more successful with the intermittent treat of scientists and reporters struggling to make sense of the carnage. Troy Fischnaller and Galen Joseph Osier provide just enough logical spackle to hold the shaky plot together.Night may sound like an iffy proposition. Is it too scary for kids, too tame for teens? No and no. For the most part, it's pop-art fun and frolic with tongue-in-cheek flourishes (including a zombie dance number that echoes Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video), plus clever set and projection designs by Carey Wong and Lara Caminsky. The show is tamer than your average haunted house.

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